Chapter XXII - 78 Home | Index | Previous | Next

"In accordance with Indra's advice, Arjuna sat meditating on Siva in order to win His grace. Meanwhile, Siva resolved upon a drama of his own. I shall tell you what it was: A huge wild boar, ferociously enraged, ran across the place where Arjuna was observing penance; he saw it, and, though during the penance one had to desist from injuring any living being, he hastily took up his bow and arrows, when the boar was about to fall upon him. Just at that moment, a Bhil of the forest, also armed with bow and arrows appeared with his wife before Arjuna! Arjuna was amazed that a woman was accompanying the Bhil in that thick forest where no person could safely move about. But, when he observed more closely, he found a huge retinue behind the Bhil, consisting of men and women of fierce appearance, yelling and shouting in strange ways. Arjuna was perplexed and astonished."

"The person who first appeared, the huntsman with the fierce face and the red glowing eyes, spoke to Arjuna: 'You, there! Who are you? Why have you come to this place? You shall not live, if you shoot an arrow against that boar, even by mistake, be warned. I have pursued it and made it run thither; what right have you to take up your bow and arrow against it?' These words that he spoke entered Arjuna's heart like a sheaf of arrows. He felt terribly hurt, for, a common huntsman had insulted him. The fellow does not know my name or fame; or else he would not have challenged me, he said to himself; he raised his bow and shot an arrow at the boar; that very moment, the Bhil too shot an arrow at it."

"The boar rolled on the ground, dead. The huntsman was in the throes of anger; he showered abuses on Arjuna; 'You, there. You do not know the rules of hunting. When I have set my eyes on it, pursued it and selected it as the prey for my arrows, how dare you aim your arrow at it? You are a greedy barbarian.' His eyes were casting sparks, so uncontrollable was his rage. Arjuna too was enraged. He shouted back, 'Shut up, you scoundrel. Or else, I will dispatch you to the domain of death. Save yourself by stopping your wagging tongue. Get back the way you came.'"

"The Bhil stood up to that threat; he did not quail, 'Whoever you are, I am not afraid; you may have three hundred and thirty crores of Gods on your side, but I shall not yield. Take care; you are an interloper. Who gave you permission to enter here? Who are you to order me out? This forest is ours; you are a thief who has sneaked in; and you have the audacity to ask us to get away!', he replied."

"At this, Arjuna guessed that he was no ordinary huntsman. He spoke in a calmer tone. 'The forest is the property of all; you have come to hunt; I have come to do penance to please Siva. I shot that boar only to save myself from its rage.' The huntsman, however, was not softened. 'I don't care whom you adore, whom you desire to please. Accept the wrong that you have done. Why did you shoot the animal I was stalking? Accept and apologise, make amends', he insisted. Arjuna lost all patience. This fellow's life, too, is to end like that of the boar, he told himself. He is not to be cured by soft words, he felt."

"So, he selected a sharp arrow, placing it on the bow and shot it at him. It hit him; but, like a thorn on rock, it fell on the ground, bent by the impact! So, the astonished Arjuna had to shoot a crescent-headed arrow which would sever his head. But, this was brushed aside by the huntsman with his left hand, like a blade of grass."